Erie Bluffs State Park
The 587-acre Erie Bluffs State Park lies along the Lake Erie shoreline in western Erie County, twelve miles west of the city of Erie.
The park has one-mile of shoreline, 90-foot bluffs overlooking Lake Erie, Elk Creek - a shallow stream steelhead fishery, several plant species of conservation concern, uncommon black oak woodland/savannah, Great Lakes region sand barren ecosystems, and forested wetlands. The only developed areas in the park are the Elk Creek Access area and the Main Entrance parking lot.
Erie Bluffs State Park is designated as a day-use park, with the exception of fishing and boating. Swimming is not permitted at the park.
Seasons and Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk. Contact the Presque Isle State Park office for facility seasons and hours.
Picnicking: Several picnic tables and a small pavilion are available on a first come-first served, non-reservable basis at the Elk Creek Access. A rustic restroom is open year round.
Boating: A 24-hour boat launch suitable for small motorized watercraft, kayaks, and canoes is available at the Elk Creek Access allowing boaters and fishermen to access Lake Erie. Fluctuations in lake and stream elevation may impact launching.
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Fishing: Anglers can enjoy fishing for steelhead in Elk Creek and the mouth of Elk Creek as it enters Lake Erie. The Elk Creek Access is open 24 hours for use by anglers. Elk Creek is a world-class shallow stream steelhead fishery with steelhead runs from late fall to early spring. Steelhead, a type of rainbow trout, reach 30 inches or longer and inhabit the cool waters of Lake Erie and seek rivers for spawning.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission laws apply. Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Over 500 acres are open to hunting, trapping, and the training of dogs from the day after Labor Day through March 31. Common game species are deer, turkey, and small game.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s vehicle or enclosed trailer. Exceptions include: law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are authorized to carry a firearm concealed on their person while they are within a state park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Geocaching: Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The goal is to locate outdoor hidden containers, called geocaches, and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people of all ages. A list of caches at the park can be found at www.geocaching.com
Hiking: 5.16 miles of trails
Black Oak Savanna Trail: 0.3 mile, easiest hiking
Bluffs Edge Trail: 0.39 mile, easiest hiking
Duck Run Trail: 0.69 mile, easiest hiking
Fishermans Footpath: 0.13 mile, more difficult hikig
Lookout Trail: 0.22 mile, easiest hiking
Timber Trail: 0.97 mile, easiest hiking
Transition Trail: 1.1 miles, easiest hiking
West Overlook Trail: 0.57 mile, more difficult hiking
Whitetail Crossing Trail: 0.6 mile, easiest hiking
Wildflower Way: 0.19 mile, more difficult hiking
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: There is a certain peace and tranquility in Erie Bluffs State Park during the winter; and the view can be breathtaking. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to enjoy the park in winter, especially with a lot of snow on the ground. Ungroomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails are located on hiking trails and service roads throughout the park.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Erie Bluffs State Park offers a wide variety of environmental education, interpretive and recreational programs. Through hands-on educational activities, guided walks and evening programs, participants gain appreciation, understanding and a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
Programs are offered year round. Contact the Presque Isle park office for more detailed information.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of upcoming events.
Exlore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
The site of Erie Bluffs State Park traces its origin to glacial advances and retreats associated with the last glacial stages of the Pleistocene period – 11,000 years ago. The forces of this period shaped the Lake Erie basin and altered the region’s topography and drainage patterns. Soil types typical of lake bed deposits and the relict dunes that characterize much of the site are associated with the higher water levels of ancient glacial lakes that preceded the present Lake Erie.
In modern times, the land and waters surrounding the area have been used for a variety of activities including logging, agriculture, and commercial fishing. A Boy Scout camp run by former owners of the US Steel Company once flourished on site. In 2004, the land was acquired by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy from Reliant Energy. The Conservancy transferred the land to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to be managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. On June 4, 2004 the area was officially established as Erie Bluffs State Park.
Within the boundaries of this biologically rich land, one can find a diversity of natural habitats ranging from a rocky-cobble shore, tranquil creek corridors, a climax forest of rare and endangered plants, and a steelhead fishery stream. The towering bluffs along the length of the park provide unique scenic vistas.
Sections of the park formerly used for agriculture are undergoing extensive restoration efforts to reclaim the black oak woodland/savanna and Great Lakes region sand barren ecosystems. Black oak savannas are relict lands formed thousands of years ago when the water levels of the Great Lakes were higher. Savannas share characteristics of both prairie and forest ecosystems, in which widely spaced trees are mixed among sand barrens with sparse vegetation.
The diversity of landforms found in the park provide habitat for plant species rare or absent in other part of Pennsylvania; the most unusual being the pumpkin ash and the Shumard oak. Wildflowers abound in the spring, while autumn brings an array of color to the landscape.
Many species of wildlife also reside in the park including birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, and insects. Bald eagles soar above the fields. A large colony of bank swallows nest in the bluff face. Steelhead, a freshwater rainbow trout, inhabits the cool water off the park’s shoreline and seeks creeks within its boundaries for spawning. Fairy shrimp, wood frogs, and red-spotted newts live in seasonal woodland wetlands known as vernal pools.
Lake Erie Bluff Face
One of the highlight features at the park is the scenic bluff face that overlooks Lake Erie. Wave action on the lake has created the bluffs that rise approximately 90 feet above the water. The bluffs are receding at a rates ranging from 0.75 to 3.82 feet annually as a result of continued exposure to wave action, weather, and ground water movement.
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DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
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Erie Bluffs State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
Erie Area Convention and Visitors Bureau www.VisitEriePa.com
Erie Regional and Growth Partnership www.EriePa.com
Presque Isle State Park provides a variety of activities including boating, swimming, hiking, biking, and education programs.
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile National Scenic Byway in the northeastern United States. West Lake Road (Route 5) along the southern border of the park is a portion of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. www.seawaytrail.com
State Game Lands (SGL) 314 is comprised of a single tract totaling 3,455.5 deeded acres within the Pennsylvania Game Commission's (PGC) Northwest Region, Wildlife Management Unit 1B. It is located just north of the small town of West Springfield about 30 road miles west of Erie and 10 miles northwest of Albion, in Springfield Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania. The primary hunting activity at SGL 314 centers on deer, turkey, fox squirrel, gray squirrel, and American woodcock. For more information, please contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission Northwest Regional Headquarters at 814-432-3187
Conneaut Harbor, located in Conneaut Ohio, has a myriad of fun things to see and do, including the iconic Conneaut Harbor Lighthouse, multiple bird observatories, fantastic restaurants overlooking the harbor, and 60-acre Conneaut Township Park. Conneaut Harbor is also home to world-class fishing including the quickest access to Lake Erie in Ashtabula County, boat launches, fishing charters, and seasonal rentals at the Conneaut Boat Club. With breath-taking views of Lake Erie and a beautiful sandy swimming beach at the Conneaut Township Park, there is always something luring visitors to this community. For more information, please contact the Conneaut Board of Tourism at 440-599-7697.
Maps and Downloadables
Below are many of the maps and publications for this park. You can read them or download them and might need special software (all free) to view the publications.
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Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
Erie Bluffs State Park Map (.pdf) (715 kb, 12/16)
Interactive GIS Map
The Interactive GIS Map uses Geographic Information Systems to create a map that does not need to be downloaded and features driving directions, searchable park amenities and customizable maps. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Erie Bluffs is north of PA 5 at Lake City, twelve miles west of Erie.
GPS DD: Lat. 42.0164 Long. -80.372
Elk Creek Access:
Driving Directions: The Interactive GIS Map has turn-by-turn driving directions to the park office from the Park Information Window. Please note that the background maps are maintained by a variety of public sources and driving directions usually go to the nearest large road.
Erie Bluffs State Park